Mario Party 4
Mario Party 4 is the fourth main installment in the Mario Party series and the first for the Nintendo GameCube. Developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo, the game was initially released in North America on October 21, 2002, making it the first Mario Party game to be released first outside of Japan. It retains the basic gameplay aspects from previous Mario Party titles, where up to four players roll dice to move around a board, earning coins from landing on Spaces, events, or winning mini-games played at the end of every turn to buy stars. Features introduced in previous Mario Party games such as the introduction of the usage of items from Mario Party 2 to assist players against their opponents and the ability to carry up to three items from Mario Party 3 return. New elements introduced in Mario Party 4 include the ability for players to team up in pairs in Party Mode, creating a custom mini-game pack selected entirely by players of the game, and the first Mario Party game to introduce side-collectibles in the form of presents. It is also the only Mario Party game so far to have pre-rendered cutscenes. The game is notable for introducing boards fully rendered in 3D, though the navigational board space layout remains flat until Mario Party 5. Additionally, the game completes a revamp in the 3D art direction of the Mario franchise that started with Luigi's Mansion and continued with Super Mario Sunshine. Mario Party 4 requires 2 blocks to save on the memory card, and it contains up to three save files.
Mario and company are enjoying the outdoors when a mysterious cloud forms in the distance. As the cloud moves closer, a giant bag appears to be floating in the sky. The bag opens up to reveal Toad, Koopa, Goomba, Shy Guy, and Boo, who invite Mario and the gang to party in the Party Cube.
It's the player character's birthday and each host wants to give a present, but the character must play in each host's board and win a special mini-game to get the present. The player character manages to get every single present from each host, but Bowser shows up and threatens to steal every present the player has, unless the player agrees to go to Bowser's board and win, and the player accepts Bowser's challenge.
The player manages to win and Koopa Kid congratulates the player for winning, but Bowser tricks the player into believing that he took all of the player's presents and the two fight in a final battle. The player manages to beat Bowser and he runs away and leaves one present behind. Koopa Kid explains that Bowser never took the player's presents.
Toad then appears and said that there is still someone who didn't give their gift to the player. The lights suddenly turn off, cuing a spotlight, then Toad points to the sky and a Star is seen, zipping across the sky revealing a constellation of the character's winning pose.
The epilogue shows the five hosts without their costumes, following after the moving Party Cube. After a few seconds, the Party Cube blasts off into space, never to be seen again.
Mario Party 4 retains the board gameplay from previous Mario Party installments. Four players take turns to navigate around a digital game board using a Dice Block that randomly rolls numbers 1-10, within a set amount of turns. Prior to starting out on a selected board, the four players need to roll a Dice Block that determines the order they will play in. Players who roll higher numbers in the beginning will start out earlier, and their HUD displayed on the corners of the screen are corresponding to what order they roll in. The overarching goal of the game is to purchase as much Stars with collected coins as possible, within the limit of turns; players first earn 10 coins to start out with. These stars cost 20 coins to purchase, and they are found in various, set locations on the board. Once a star is purchased, the star migrates to another location on the board, where players then need to navigate there to purchase again. Once all players have moved, a turn is passed and a mini-game is randomly selected from a roulette of mini-games and played; initially mini-game names are blocked out with question marks until they have been played at least once. These mini-games involve players doing actions with very specific rules under short time limit to outperform their competition. If the players are successful by beating their opponents, they earn 10 coins as a reward, though mini-games classified as Coin mini-games (mini-games that have their text colored yellow) has the potential of players earning more coins, and they keep those coins regardless if they collected the most or not.
Spaces of various types are scattered across the board and give several effects when landed on. The most common space, the Blue Space, gives players out 3 coins if they landed on it. On the other hand, landing on a Red Space deducts 3 coins if landed on. Other spaces include Happening Spaces, Warp Spaces, Mushroom Spaces, etc. that all have their own special effect. When a space is landed on, the player panel turns to whatever color the space they landed on was. The color of the player panel dictates the type of mini-game that will be played at the end of the turn. For example, if all players land on a Blue Space, a 4-Player type mini-game will be played. If two players land on a Blue Space and two land on a Red Space, they will play a 2-vs-2 mini-game, being paired with the character who has the same color as their player panel as each other. 1-vs-3 mini-games are played if three players land on the same-colored space and one player lands on a different-colored space. If players land on a green-colored space, their player panel color will change to either blue or red randomly. Other types of mini-games are played under only special occasions; for example, Battle mini-games can be played only if players land a Battle Space and Bowser mini-games can be played if players land on a Bowser Space and Bowser decides to play the mini-game.
Other board features that can be accessed in all boards include Item Shops, Boo Houses, and Lottery Shops. Players can choose to enter these when they pass their space, though some of these are locked away through Gates. Some boards feature board-specific features that players that function in a similar manner to these shops such as the Mystery Train from Boo's Haunted Bash or Klepto from Shy Guy's Jungle Jam. Players earn a Lucky Party Ticket when they enter the Lottery Shop for the first time, which does not have an effect until the Last Five Turns Event.
Items can be earned when players purchase them from Item Shops, obtain them from landing on Mushroom Spaces, win them in Mini Mini-games, or through other means. Players can stash up to three items; if they carry more, they need to discard items. These items can be used to give players advantages over their opponents. A prominent feature of Mario Party 4 is the replacement of regular Mushrooms through the use of Mega and Mini Mushrooms, which can be routinely earned throughout the game. Mega Mushrooms cause the player to grow large, roll two sets of Dice Blocks, and squash opponent players for their coins. However, this causes them to ignore most board features, which includes passing by Star Spaces. Mini Mushrooms shrink players and make them roll a Dice Block numbered only 1-5, but they can travel through Gates to access areas of the map that cannot be accessed otherwise and play Mini Mini-games, which gives them the chance to earn free coins and items. In Bowser's Gnarly Party, Bowser reacts differently to characters depending on their current size. Players can earn more powerful variants of them with the Super Mega Mushroom and the Super Mini Mushroom, both of which let them roll an extra Dice Block. When players roll doubles or triples, they earn bonus coins, with 7's earning a greater amount of coins, where the greatest amount, rolling three 7's, rewards players with 100 coins.
A Last Five Turns Event commences when there are only five more turns in the board. The current host of the board then tallies the results of the players up and then uses a roulette to match the character mugshots on a Lucky Party Ticket, if there are any received at all. Whoever has all the matching Lucky Party Ticket character mugshots earns a free Star, though this happens very rarely. After that, the host gives the last place player a chance to stop a roulette, which affects the board's rules for the rest of the game. These include doubling the amount Blue Space give and Red Spaces take away, all Red Spaces becoming Bowser Spaces, all Red Spaces becoming Fortune Spaces, or all Stars becoming free. The game then actively notifies players of the amount of turns left.
Once the final mini-game has been played, the host of the board does a final tally and announces who has the most stars and coins. If bonuses are turned on prior to starting the game, the host can additionally give out extra stars depending on if the player has fulfilled the requirements of being the best of that requirement. After the final countdown, the first place player gets rewarded as the Party Star and thus wins the game. Coins are the tiebreaker if a tie with Stars occur, and if there is a coin tie as well, the winner is determined through a Dice Block roll. Past this, players can view statistics and results to see overall performance, such as how many Spaces of a certain type was landed on and how much accumulated coins they won through mini-games.
Mario Party 4 comes with six game modes. Three of the game modes are hosted by one of the five character hosts, though Toad mostly guides the player in Party Mode prior to selecting a map while Boo does not host any of the modes, unless his board is selected in Party and Story Mode. The main menu is called the "Party Cube screen", where players can pick a ticket representing the mode before entering the Party Cube.
The primary mode of Mario Party 4, who is hosted by Toad prior to board selection. This mode uses the default rules for game boards, where the goal is to amass the most Stars. Up to four players can participate in this mode, and there are always four players in the board; CPU players fill up slots of vacant human players. Players can select from a roster of 8 playable characters, and then adjust the difficulty of the CPU players from Easy, Normal, Hard, to the unlockable Expert. After the characters are selected, players pick a board to play on. Once a board is selected, the owner of the board becomes the overall host of the game. Players can then adjust the following settings:
When these settings are confirmed, the game starts. Players have access to more options when they pause the game with . In the pause screen, players additionally can see the numbers of turns they have left.
Story Mode serves as the game's single player mode. Here, players have to clear board maps against opponent characters and beat the hosts of the maps in their special mini-games in order to win a present from them. Presents earned through this mode are stored in the Present Room. Prior to playing, players can set the difficulty of the mode from Easy, Normal, Hard, and Auto. If the game is on the Auto setting, CPU players get progressively more difficult every time a board is completed. Additionally, players can select which type of mini-games will appear, from All, to Easy, to the Custom set the player has created. Unlike Party Mode, CPU characters are picked automatically, and the static settings are Battle Royale, 15 turns, Bonuses on, and Handicap off. If there is a save file in the Story Mode, it is represented by the player character's icon on the save file screen. If players lose to the host in their respective story mini-game, players can immediately attempt again. Once players beat all host characters of the starter maps, Koopa Kid shows up and takes the player to Bowser's Gnarly Party, a board that is unlocked once players beat Bowser in The Final Battle!, take back the stolen presents, and earn his present from his defeat.
This mode is hosted by Goomba, and the primary focus of the mode are the mini-games. Mini-games are unlocked whenever they are played for the first time in the game's Party and Story Modes. Up to four players can participate in this mode, and any vacant slots are filled with CPU characters with adjustable difficulties. There are four ways to play this mode:
This mode is hosted by Koopa Troopa, where players can adjust various settings, listen to the game's sounds, or view records.
This mode is hosted by Shy Guy, where players can view all of the presents won in Story Mode. Other collectibles are stored here as well, including the presents won when certain times or scores are beaten in mini-games and character constellations when Story Mode is beaten with that character. Presents are sorted by character and type.
Thwomp hosts this multiplayer-oriented mode, where one to four players can play with a variety of settings. The settings set are similar to those set in Free Play and Team Play in Mini-Game Mode. When playing on Mega Board Mayhem and Mini Board Mad-Dash, mini-games do not appear and therefore, players stay on the board the entire game. Players initially start out playing only Mega Board Mayhem and Mini Board Mad-Dash; they unlock Challenge Booksquirm and Panel Panic as they play. The last two games listed are extended versions of other mini-games.
Whomp hosts this single-player mode, where all of the features are unique mini-games that are exclusive to this mode. There are a total of six mini-games in this mode; players start out with four mini-games and when all are played, two more appear.
A special mini-game that is hosted by Ztar, unlocked when all games from the above modes are unlocked. This volleyball-themed mini-game comes with its own set of rules and unlockables, as well as its own tournament mode. Additionally, some playable characters are exclusive to this mode in Mario Party 4.
Mario Party 4 has a total of eight playable characters, with all playable characters returning from Mario Party 3. All of these playable characters are usable from the beginning and are usable throughout all modes. While Mario Party 4 does not introduce any new playable characters, a mini-game, Beach Volley Folley, found in the Extra Mode, features additional playable characters exclusive to that mini-game. They are unlocked by playing through Battle Mode, and once Battle Mode is unlocked, those additional playable characters are usable only in Free Mode.
Beach Volley Folley exclusive
Shops and other board features
Mario Party 4 has a total of sixty mini-games, which is less than its predecessor, Mario Party 3, not counting the Mini-Mini-games that are played in the board when players are under the influence of a Mini Mushroom. It is the first Mario Party game to have fewer minigames than its predecessor. Following the removal of Duel, Item, and Game Guy mini-games, Mario Party 4 introduces new mini-game types that would become reoccurring for later games in the series. Bowser mini-games are played when a player lands on a Bowser Space and has players competing to not be the loser of the mini-game; Bowser mini-games always have a losing player and have that player burnt by Bowser. Story mini-games involve players competing against the host player though in the Mini-game Mode, the host player is replaced by the second player. etc. Mini-games are unlocked by facing off as a Mega player against Bowser and playing The Final Battle! Finally, the mini-games played exclusively in the Extra Room are counted into the total.
Mario Party 4 is developed by Hudson Soft, the primary developer of Mario Party installments until Mario Party 9 and the game is published by Nintendo. CAProduction is also credited with co-developing Mario Party 4, who has a consistent history of developing Mario Party titles and has strong ties to Hudson Soft and Nd Cube, the current developer for Mario Party games. The game was directed by Kenji Kikuchi, who also directed the first three Mario Party titles and Mario Party 5. The game's soundtrack was composed by Ichiro Shimakura, who composed the soundtrack for Mario Party 3.
Mario Party 4 received mostly mixed to positive reviews from critics. GameSpot's Ryan Davis praised the game's mini-game format, but noted that "players that who already exhausted themselves on previous Mario Party titles may not have enough here to draw them back again". Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell acknowledged the variety and thematic features of the boards, but thought they were too large, resulting in a "glacial pace" when coupled with the on-board animations. Despite this, IGN praised the boards for their thematic features on each one, which helped "ease the tediousness". New gameplay features such as the mushroom system received a negative review from multiple critics, with frustration being expressed at not being able to enter shops or purchase stars with big characters. The game's multiplayer was praised by reviews, especially in comparison to the single player mode, "Story Mode". The mini-games were mainly met with a positive reaction, with critics praising their simplicity.
Mario Party 4 is the 10th best selling game for Nintendo GameCube, with approximately 2.45 million copies sold worldwide: 1.1 million copies in North America, 902,827 copies in Japan, and 450,000 copies elsewhere, as of December 31, 2009.
Pre-release and unused content
The game contains files that are named E3Setup.bin, E3SetupDLL.rel and E3SetupDLL.str. When modesel.bin in the data folder and modeseldll.rel + modeseldell.str in the dll folder are replaced by the former files, a pre-release character select screen, for E3 purposes, is shown. Donkey Kong and Wario cannot be selected because at this point, their models had not yet been constructed.
A debug menu was found in the game's data, and includes all the mini-games.
In 2003, arcade game and toy manufacturer Banpresto released a Mario Party 4 based arcade game only in Japan called Dokidoki Mario Chance! The game had a wheel base with numbers and lights in the center of each number circle in a clockwise pattern. Each time a light would turn on, a sound would activate. On the top of the machine is a plastic case which houses a small jumping Mario figure. A Japanese voice actress and Charles Martinet provided voice acting for the game. Among Charles' lines are "Yahoo!" and "Let's-a party!" A music piece also plays throughout the gameplay. When someone loses the game, a sad sound along with more voice acting from Charles Martinet would play. It was the last Mario game to be made by Banpresto.
References to previous games
References in later games